The Conjuring 2 scared Warcraft out of the top spot at the North American box office this weekend, earning an estimated $40.3 million.
Warcraft, which earned a huge opening weekend in China, couldn't come close to matching those numbers in the U.S. as it earned just over $24 million for the weekend, down from earlier projections of $25-30 million.
Warcraft earned about a million less in its opening frame than Battleship, even while its Chinese take of $145 million over 4 days soared past the lifetime $125 million theatrical haul of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Battleship, considered a flop domestically, performed similarly to how we might see Warcraft doing: it earned about 75% of its take overseas, managing hundreds of millions in the international market. That film, though, didn't earn enough to merit a sequel.
Warcraft may or may not be a different story. For starters, most fans are now familiar with Warcraft through the elaborate universe of World of Warcraft, rather than the simpler orcs-vs-humans dynamic of the original game. It's possible that Blizzard and Legendary could see World of Warcraft as a surer thing than Warcraft.
"Sam Raimi was initially on the project to do the movie. Inevitably Sam left to do another project, and we were in a place of really figuring out what story we wanted to tell, and we ended up working with Legendary and Atlas and the idea was, okay, maybe trying to World of Warcraft, this big story with so many races and so many quest lines full of history isn't going to give us the best movie," Blizzard exec James Waugh told ComicBook.com recently. "It's just so much to take in, and we decided to place a camera early Warcraft. That's really the heart and soul of the franchises, alliance versus horde, orc versus human. We thought if that film works, then audiences can graduate if there are more films to the kind of bigger concepts and wider world that World of Warcraft inevitably becomes."
Warcraft also cost about $50 million less to make than Battleship, increasing the odds that the international market will make it a Men in Black 3-style success, as opposed to a failure to launch like Battleship. The fact that World of Warcraft is an obvious next step may be a talking point as well, whereas Battleship had no obvious next installment and in fact many fans wondered how the film had gotten made to start with.
The Conjuring 2, for its part, cost about a quarter of what Warcraft did to make ($40 million versus $150 million reported budgets), setting it up to be a big success for Warner Bros.
The third-highest-grossing film of the weekend was Now You See Me 2, which adds Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe, and earned about $23 million, down from the $29 million the first film made in its opening frame. Again, though, a manageable budget should make that film a win for the studio anyway, provided it performs like the previous one did at the international box office, where it earned about 2/3 of its money.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows ($14.8 million) and X-Men: Apocalypse ($10 million) rounded out the weekend's top five.